REVIEW | Smut by Alan Bennett

image via Strand website

image via Strand website

title: Smut: Stories [support an independent bookseller and buy at Strand]
by: Alan Bennett
genre: short stories
pages: 152
published: 2010
source: I was a lent a copy by a friend.

Alan Bennett’s Smut is comprised of two stories:  The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson and The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes.  The former follows Mrs. Donaldson, newly widowed and working as a practice patient for medical school students, as she decides to take in lodgers to supplement her income. The later follows the increasingly complicated lives of the Forbes family, particularly son Graham and his new wife, Betty.  Both were fascinating studies in the absence of intimacy.

In each piece, the characters really demonstrate what happens when we play a role for the benefit of others (or for the benefit of ourselves), though quite a bit more literally in the first piece.  In The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, the title character chooses voyeurism as opposed to participation in her private life, and impersonation in her professional.  The reader really struggles to get a clear sense of who Mrs. Donaldson is and what she wants, but I would venture to guess these are questions Mrs. Donaldson hasn’t dared to ask herself as of late.  In The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, SO MUCH LYING IS HAPPENING and neither Mrs. Forbes seems all that interested in really truly knowing her respective Mr. Forbes, and vice versa.

For such a cheeky title, the stories were surprisingly sad.

Bennett’s style does take a few pages to settle into, and though I walked away from each story a bit deflated, the stories themselves are very clever and quite funny at times.  Absolutely worth the read.

Rubric rating:  8. Though he predominately writes for the stage and screen, I will definitely pick up his novella An Uncommon Reader.

Fun Fact:  Alan Bennett was born in Leeds, England.  I read that, and my mind immediately went here:

The-Increasingly-Poor-Decisions-of-Todd-Margaret

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s